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Auction of T. rex skeleton canceled after paleontologist raised concerns

A Tyrannosaurus rex named Stan is on display at Christie's Auction House on October 1, 2020. Christie's canceled the sale of another T. rex called Shen after a paleontologist raised concerns that it included replica bones from Stan. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/73de25f4e60958a49b14e2ffe6a7f12a/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A Tyrannosaurus rex named Stan is on display at Christie's Auction House on October 1, 2020. Christie's canceled the sale of another T. rex called Shen after a paleontologist raised concerns that it included replica bones from Stan. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The sale of a T. rex skeleton by the British auction house Christie's was canceled Monday after a paleontologist raised concerns that the bones belonged to another dinosaur.

The cancellation was first reported by The New York Times and confirmed by the auction house to the BBC. The fossils were slated to go on the auction block in Hong Kong on Nov. 30 and were expected to be sold for between $15 million and $25 million.

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"After consultation with the consignor of the Tyrannosaurus rex scheduled for sale on 30 November in Hong Kong, Christie's has decided to withdraw the lot," Edward Lewine, a spokesman for Christie's, said in a statement.

"The consignor has now decided to loan the specimen to a museum for public display."

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Christie's had called the dinosaur, which it named Shen, the first T. rex skeleton to appear at an auction in Asia.

"It is an honor to be entrusted with the first auction in Asia of a T. rex skeleton -- a groundbreaking moment for the market in the region," Francis Belin, the president of Christie's Asia Pacific, said in a statement in September.

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"This is a world-class specimen for museums and institutions."

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However, the skeleton was contested in recent weeks by lawyers with the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research who said that some of Shen's bones looked like those from another T. rex sold by Christie's in 2020 for $31.8 million named Stan.

The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research is a company and museum based in South Dakota that specializes in the excavation and preparation of fossils. It also sells original fossil materials and replicas.

Peter Larson, the company's president, told The New York Times that Shen's skull looked similar to Stan's skull, including holes in the lower left jaw. The company had retained the intellectual property rights to Stan after the specimen was sold, allowing it to continue to sell pricey polyurethane replicas.

Larson alleged that the owner of Shen had bought a cast of Stan to enhance it for the sale.

"They're using Stan to sell a dinosaur that's not Stan," Larson said. "It's very misleading."

Christie's later added a disclaimer to its previous news release about the sale, noting that "replica bones that were added to original bones were created by, and purchased from, Black Hills Institute of Geological Research."

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"There is no T. rex skeleton extant that is entirely made up of original bones," Christie's said in a statement to the BBC. "We believe the original elements of Shen are authentic."

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